The siren call of an open seat in the Utah House of Representatives proved too much for former Reps. Bruce Cutler and Ken Ivory as they faced off in West Jordan on Monday night.
Delegates in HD47 chose Ivory to fill a sudden vacancy in HD47 caused by the sudden resignation of Steve Christiansen late last month. Christiansen was picked by many of these same delegates to replace Ivory when he resigned in 2019.
Ivory was first elected in 2010, knocking off incumbent Republican Steven Mascaro to win the GOP nomination. Cutler represented HD44 in Midvale from 2014 to 2018 until he lost his re-election bid to Democrat Andrew Stoddard.
Ivory says the opportunity to re-engage with voters is ultimately what drew him back to the Legislature.
“We have a federal government that’s trying to dictate nearly every aspect of our lives, and that’s not the way our government is structured. We need to be concerned about our state government doing the same thing,” Ivory said shortly after his victory.
Ivory resigned from the HD47 seat in the summer of 2019 to take a job with a Silicon Slopes company that scored a lucrative state contract he helped shepherd through the Legislature before he stepped down.
Ivory famously led the charge for states to take more control over public lands. His work with the American Lands Council, a nonprofit he started to advance that agenda, drew ethics complaints calling him a “snake-oil salesman.”
Ivory focused on more than public lands during his first stint in the House, including advocating for victims’ rights and telehealth legislation.
“There’s a lot of other things I’m hoping to work on, but I’m most excited about the people. They’re ready to engage and I’m excited to be a conduit for that,” Ivory said.
Former Rep. Steve Christiansen’s sudden resignation caught Republican leaders off guard. Prior to that, Christiansen was pursuing unfounded claims of election fraud and attempted to leverage his elected office to obtain private information on every Utah voter, including records marked private.
In his widely circulated resignation letter, Christiansen claimed threats to his family resulting from those election fraud claims prompted him to step down from his seat in the Legislature and retire from his job with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Christiansen was in attendance at Monday’s vote. He declined to offer further details about what prompted him to step down.
“I’m dealing with all those things behind the scenes and privately. The document I made broadly available says everything that needs to be said. Those are clearly the primary reasons behind both the resignation and retirement,” Christiansen said.
There are more than 16,000 registered voters in HD47 according to data provided by political data company L2. But just 59 Republican delegates cast a ballot on Monday. Ivory cruised to an easy win 40-19.
The district is poised to get a little less Republican after the just-completed redistricting cycle shifted the borders. Former President Donald Trump carried the district by just over 10 points in 2020. Had the new boundaries been in place for the 2020 election, Trump’s margin of victory would have dropped to 7 points.
Ivory will be sworn into office later this week.